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Iran: Bahai Sect

Volume 471: debated on Wednesday 30 January 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what diplomatic steps are being taken towards the government of Iran on the human rights of the Baha’i community in Iran. (183413)

We regularly raise our concerns about the treatment of Baha’is with the Iranian authorities, both bilaterally and through the EU. Most recently, the EU presidency raised concerns about the treatment of Baha’is in a meeting with the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 22 January. The presidency specifically raised the case of a group of Baha’is recently arrested in Shiraz, including three individuals who were at the time imprisoned in the detention centre of the Ministry of Intelligence and Security. We understand that this group has since been sentenced for “anti-regime propaganda”.

The UN General Assembly passed a resolution about the human rights situation in Iran in December last year, expressing very serious concern about increasing discrimination against religious and other minorities in Iran, including in particular “attacks on Baha’is and their faith in state-sponsored media, increasing evidence of efforts by the state to identify and monitor Baha’is and prevention of the Baha’i faith from attending university and from sustaining themselves economically”. The UK, through the EU, co-sponsored this resolution.

The Government continue to press the Iranian authorities to take seriously their international human rights obligations, uphold the right to freedom of religion and belief, as described in Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and address the discrimination suffered by Iranian Baha’is.